All-State Ace Is Back, Giving Her Teammates Hope

Casey Waleko
Casey Waleko must build up her stamina and strength, East Hampton’s softball coach, Lou Reale, said after Saturday’s 4-1 win here over Westhampton Beach. Durell Godfrey

With Casey Waleko, his freshman ace, back on the mound, Lou Reale, who coaches East Hampton High School’s softball team, has reason to think the Bonackers will be competitive this season, “though,” as he said following Saturday’s 4-1 win here over Westhampton Beach, “the two Class A leagues are tough. . . . Deer Park [a new entry in League V] beat Lindsay Taylor and Kings Park 16-1!”

    Newsday’s previews on Sunday said Taylor, Eastport-South Manor’s Catherine Havens, and Hauppauge’s Nicole Ehlinger (all of them League V pitchers) were “in a league of their own.”

    East Hampton, which plays in League VI, is to play a crossover with Deer Park next Thursday, and is to play Kings Park on April 23, Eastport-South Manor on April 27, and Hauppauge on May 2.

    In touting the Class A pitchers no mention was made of Waleko, who is coming back from a six-week layoff owing to an operation on her pitching hand, nor was East Hampton mentioned as among the teams in the Class A mix. Though the Bonackers, if Waleko’s pitching, could well be a contender.

    “She’s got to get stronger,” Reale said following Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes. “She’s got to build up her stamina and strength. For her first start, it was pretty good. She gave up five hits (including two line-drive doubles), struck out 10, and didn’t walk anyone. Her drop wasn’t dropping and she’s got to get more consistent with her changeup, but she was throwing all her pitches — her fastball, rise, drop, and changeup — and she told me that she felt good.”

    Waleko may not pitch day in, day out, however. She has a capable backup in Sam Mathews, though Mathews was hit pretty hard in last week’s league opener at Sayville, which the home team won 5-0.

    “The reason they won was we didn’t hit the ball and we made four errors,” said Reale. “Their pitcher, Selts, hit a home run and two rockets that Courtney [Dess] caught in center field. One was hit straight at her, the other she ran down. The score would have been a lot worse if they’d gone through.”

    Besides Waleko, Saturday’s starting lineup included Ricky Slater, a sophomore who was brought up from the junior varsity, at first base. Amanda Thompson, who began the season there, has been moved to right field, and the former right fielder, Dana Dragone, who is pretty quick, now is in left.

    Other jayvee players who were up with the varsity on Saturday were Ciere Kenney, Shannon McCaffery, and Sarah Becker, all ninth graders, and Sydney Sanicola, a sophomore. They apparently will alternate between the two teams in order to gain more experience.

    In Saturday’s game, a makeup of one that was supposed to have been played a couple of days before, East Hampton got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the first inning. After Maysie Makrianes, the leadoff hitter, had reached first base safely on an infield error and Deryn Hahn, the third baseman, had singled, Thompson drove Makrianes home from second with a two-out single down the third-base line.

    The Bonackers made it 3-0 in the bottom of the third. After Makrianes had popped out to short, Hahn lined a single over third, Kathryn Hess, the hard-hitting catcher, ripped a shot between third and short, and Meghan Hess drove in Hahn with a base hit of her own.

    As her younger sister pulled into third, Meghan Hess, with Thompson about to step into the batter’s box, strolled down to second. Again Thompson came through with an r.b.i. single. A strikeout by Slater, who was hitting sixth in the lineup, and a popout to short by Abbey Schutte, the designated hitter, ended the inning.

    The visitors got one back in the top of the fourth, the result of an error by Thompson, who dropped a soft fly hit her way by Madi Sganga, a double to left by Vicky Mackowka, and a pop r.b.i. single over third by Christina Albin. Still facing a bases-loaded situation, with no outs, Waleko bore down, retiring Tara Boeshore on a pop to Meghan Hess at short, Claudia Purkis on a lineout to Hahn, and striking out her opposite number, Gaby Gaeta.

    East Hampton scored its fourth run, in the bottom of the sixth, because of some heads-up baserunning. After two were out, Dragone walked and stole second with Makrianes up. When Makrianes drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, Dragone stole third, and came home as Makrianes drew a throw as she continued around first. She was thrown out trying to get back into first base, but by that time Dragone had crossed the plate.

    Waleko got two quick outs in the visitors’ last at-bat, Purkis grounding out third-to-first and Gaeta again fanning the breeze. But then Brie Ostreicher, pinch-hitting for Katy McCarthy, stroked a double to left-center. The next batter, the leadoff hitter, Michelle Cardo, popped one toward Waleko, who trapped the ball and threw to Slater at first, but Slater dropped the throw, allowing Ostreicher to score.

    Cardo pulled up at second on the play. Westhampton’s hopes were dashed at that point, however, as Sganga grounded out pitcher-to-first.
    The players celebrated with cupcakes supplied by Waleko’s mother, Tracey, and were delighted to hear that if it did not rain Monday they’d board the bus for Elwood-John Glenn after the eighth period. (There are nine periods in East Hampton High’s school day.)